Sebastian Vettel yesterday made it six poles from seven starts this year, which, when added to Mark Webber’s P1 in Barcelona, kept up Red Bull’s supreme qualifying record for 2011, on a track where many, including those within the team, suspected others might have an edge. It was, for everybody involved, a very special moment, but amid the whoopin’ and hollerin’ on the radio, Seb also said ‘Sorry’, apologizing to his mechanics for giving them a hard time by planting his RB7 in the aptly named ‘Wall of Champions’ during Friday morning’s practice session. Recovering his weekend from that point took a huge collective effort.
'The only way to say thanks is to drive as quickly as I can and put us in a good position.'
"To be honest, we are here to drive the car on the limit and mistakes can happen, and surely it’s better when they happen on Friday than on Saturday or Sunday - but it doesn’t feel nice when you come back to your garage without your car,” said Seb. “I could see that they [the Red Bull Racing garage crew] had to work very hard, they had no lunch, and it’s all so I could get out again in the afternoon - and there’s not much I can physically do to help them, so you go to your room and wait. The only way to say thanks is to make sure the next time I have the chance to drive the car, I drive it as quickly as I can and put us in a good position.”
Having suffered substantial bodywork and suspension damage, initially it did not look like Vettel would have a car for the start of FP2 on Friday afternoon. The session was likely to prove vital as every car set out to properly evaluate the supersoft Pirellis for the first time on the unique mix of tarmac and concrete that makes up the part-street, part-track Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, so it was something of a surprise to see car number one appear on the timing screens at the start of the session, and get in 29 priceless laps during the afternoon.
“Yeah, initially I didn’t think there was much chance, or hope, of going out in the second session but they fixed it amazingly quickly," he said. "We had the whole of FP2, which was very important, particularly for qualifying.”
Vettel found his rhythm and qualified on pole position, but argued the challenge isn’t so much to look at the times of his rivals, as it is to make sure he’s extracting everything from his car in terms of both the precision of his lap, and also the effectiveness of his setup. “You look to yourself, definitely: in qualifying you know it’s between you and the car," said Vettel. "Sure you are fighting the others, but first of all you try to maximize your own performance - because really that’s the best you can do.”